Entries from October 2010
A few weeks ago my friend Vanessa invited my family to her house for dinner. She and her husband cooked the most delicious meal — not to mention presented a perfect starter plate (prosciutto-wrapped bocconcini and halved fresh figs) that I’ve already stolen and passed off as mine in my own house. Twice. But the real highlight of the evening was watching my kids (and four others) devour her creamy-tomatoey baked chicken before they headed to the basement for a Scooby Doo screening. Because my kids had never eaten it before, I was all ready to give them the usual song-and-dance – It’s like Chicken Parm, but the cheese is in the sauce instead of on top of the chicken! But none was needed. They ate every last bite and I found myself sneaking a spoonful of what remained in the pot when Vanessa was in the other room setting the table for the “grown-up” meal. My favorite thing about the recipe, which of course I made Vanessa email me the next day, was that it reads like a tweet. It is that simple. It requires only six basic ingredients and (after some technique tweaking) only one pot. You’re welcome.
Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce
In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven (sorry photo does not show either), brown 3 to 4 large boneless chicken breasts over high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes a side. Remove breasts from pan. (They do not have to be cooked through.) Turn down heat to medium-low and add one onion (finely chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (minced). After about 2 minutes, stir in one 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 3-4 tablespoons mascarpone and a handful of roughly chopped basil. Add chicken back to pan, immersing them in sauce. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
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Tags:baked chicken·family entertaining ideas·fast dinner for kids
I have a hard time with transitions. Going from elementary school to middle school was a nightmare for me. I was completely lost when I moved from Brooklyn to the suburbs seven years ago. And, perhaps just as dire as these First World predicaments, I can never figure out what works for dinner in late September/early October — when summer market VIPs are more like VMPs (M=Mediocre) and I’m not quite ready for the heaviness of, say, a beer-braised pork shoulder. This is when I am grateful for my Dinner Diary. I flipped back 11 years (above) to see how my 28-year-old self was dealing with the season switch. She was apparently much more energized than me (maybe because she wasn’t chasing kids around yet?) and had a couple good ideas: Chicken Pot Pies (a nice way to use summer produce that isn’t quite up to snuff anymore) Porcupine Meatballs, Grilled Pork with Apples (just replace apples for peaches in this link) and Black Bean Burritos (this link is a later, better recipe). Thanks 28-year-old Jenny! I knew I kept you around for a reason.
PS: If you’re going shopping today, make sure you pick up the following: quinoa, onions, frozen spinach, eggs, whole wheat pasta, and a can of artichokes. I’m assuming you already have olive oil, soy sauce, and Parmesan. Even if you don’t check back in later this week to see how many different meals you can make with these ingredients, it doesn’t really matter. They are loyal pantry friends with long shelf lives — so they will be there for you when you need them the most.
PPS: My friend Rory just sent me this story about happiness. Turns out a new study has determined that the happiest people eat home-cooked meals at least four times a week. (It also says that they drink alcohol four times a week, but it’s unclear if I reach debilitating levels of euphoria if I exceed that number.) Shall we all aspire to official happiness together?
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